Americans have filed lawsuits against states that have ended the extra unemployment benefits increased as part of the pandemic relief program.
Now, “a group of 26 states, all but one led by Republican governors, [is] prematurely ending one of three federal unemployment programs that provided jobless workers with an extra $300 a week, on top of their regular state benefits, and extended eligibility for contract workers as well as those who had exhausted their regular state benefits,” reports Fox Business.
A group of unemployed workers in Indiana became the first to file against their state. In court documents filed by two non-profit organizations, the workers said that decreasing the payments “violated the clear mandates of Indiana’s unemployment statute — to secure all rights and benefits available for unemployed individuals.”
A judge ruled on June 25 that Governor Eric Holcomb had to continue the additional payments. He later denied the governor’s appeal.
A judge in Maryland has also ruled that the pandemic payments must continue.
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis and Department of Economic Opportunity Secretary Dane Eagle were named in a lawsuit filed Sunday regarding the payments.
“Each of the plaintiffs have suffered economic hardships because of COVID, have had difficulty finding work and now with the discontinuation of the [Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation] face even more pressing financial hardships,” the lawsuit said, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
The defendants want the payments to continue until at least September 6.
On average, state unemployment benefits are about $330 per week. Americans are receiving about $630 in weekly unemployment benefits. That’s about $32,000 annually — roughly double the nation’s minimum wage.
Some Republican lawmakers have said the increased benefits discourage unemployed people from finding new jobs.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics currently lists the unemployment rate as 5.9%. From May to June of this year, 168,000 additional people joined the ranks of the unemployed in America. In contrast, the employment rate changed by just 18,000 in the same month.
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